Note: This was first posted on August 9, 2010. I was commuting from the Evil Empire State building in the wee hours as my supervisor shift finished long after all visitors and staff had departed. These were the dark days of working for Darth ESB. I will eventually end back up there for other reasons but things have much improved.

But it remains of actuality and I had a laugh reading it again, so I thought I would share.

Out of necessity more than curiosity, I descend into the cave. Darkness there isn’t as overwhelming as I remembered but from the depths of the Earth rises an evil breath of pure searing heat. The planet’s core suddenly seems dangerously close. I punch my way through a narrow opening and instantly, sweat starts pouring down my back and forehead. A suit and tie are no dream attire for such an unbearably unfriendly place.

It seems as though an unseen volcano is half-asleep nearby, sending flows of lava through the ground and super-heating the many tunnels that surround it. Rats are running unrelentingly across the space in a never-ending quest for edible garbage, and garbage is everywhere.

Fellow cavemen and women are enduring the heat the best they can, looking around them with worried eyes, in search of clues. There are too many of us here despite the late hour. Routine more than awareness has brought us all down but I feel a hot wave of hesitation. The cave has become a trap. Our steel monster and its random coolness, are late. Yet again.

I look around me. A dreadful sign of official looks and customary colors is posted on a rusty metal pillar. It reads:

AUGUST 8, 2010. There is no F train service at this station from 12:00 AM to 5 AM. How will this affect my trip? Take the downtown-bound D train across the platform and transfer at West 4th Street to an F train.

I look at my watch. 12:20 AM, August 8. Bloody cave. Damn metal monster. I was counting on the F to get home. I turn around in a hopeful move towards the D train track and stop before a new sign that reads:

AUGUST 7 to AUGUST 10, 2010. There is no D train at this station from 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM. How will this affect my trip? Take the downtown-bound F train across the platform and transfer at West 4th Street to a D train.

I look to my right. A young woman that just finished reading too is staring blindly at the tracks, trying to make sense of the mysterious cave drawings. Heat is just numbing us. My shirt is drenched. It is actually much hotter down here than at the surface. I can’t figure out the physics of it.

Why are we here chasing our tails and wasting time? And why on Earth – or below it – did we agree to pay a soon-to-be-further-inflated fee for this absolute lack of service, incoherent information, ridiculous absence of ventilation, antiquated system and utmost inefficiency?

Because we are MTA customers and like all sheep, we go with the flow.